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The 3-Step New Hire Onboarding Checklist for Increased Retention

January 24, 2017
Min Read

When it comes to onboarding new employees, it can be difficult to decide what’s going to have the most impact. Which techniques should you use? How long should the process take? From orientations to onboarding software, countless methods abound—each one promising outstanding retention and engagement results. It can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. That’s why I set out on a mission to discover the Holy Grail of onboarding: a systemized process that incorporates the most effective methods for improving new hire readiness and setting employees on the path to proficiency and productivity. Throughout my years of overseeing acquisition, onboarding, and retention of Formstack employees, I’ve poured over countless HR techniques, tools, and tactics. The result? A new hire onboarding process so simple, it almost feels more like a pastime than a business process. And now I want to share my new hire onboarding checklist with you.

Step 1: Streamline Paperwork

The faster new hires can complete required reading and forms, the sooner they can turn their attention to your team’s goals and organization’s mission. But how, exactly, do you go about speeding up the process of completing required paperwork? Easy. By moving it all online. We know from research that 73% of HR professionals still rely on paper to manage documents, and 82% feel they’re stuck with paper-based workflows for another decade. Those numbers tell us that many of you have yet to discover the power of an online form builder. Depending on how much onboarding paperwork you have, online forms can save both your new hires and you from hours’ worth of work. Think of how much faster the process will go when all you have to do is share a single URL—something that can be accomplished simply by using the following “starter” checklist:

  • Move onboarding paperwork and forms to an online platform that allows you to securely collect signatures and data.
  • Create a new employee IT checklist to ensure the new employee has the right equipment and software from day one.
  • Use an employee information form to collect needed data as well as engaging “get to know you” pieces of information.
  • Leverage past form submissions to create team welcome packets for future new hires, and include contact information as well as helpful tips like favorite lunch spots.

Step 2: Formalize Orientation

Orientation is an important part of the new hire onboarding process. Unfortunately, it’s also frequently overlooked. Orientation is the time when new hires become comfortable with your culture, vision, and values. It’s a chance for them to ask questions. Get to know HR. Learn what makes teams click. So why not go all out? By taking the time to formally familiarize new employees with your organization's unique policies and various procedures, you lay the groundwork for greater productivity as new hires transition to focusing on big-picture activities. You can save your HR team time by building out a repeatable curriculum to be used with each new period of expansion. Many HR professionals shy away from orientations because they envision big corporate events with large groups of new hires, but that’s often not necessary. The following checklist of orientation must-haves can be used for group orientations as well as one-on-one sessions or online orientations for remote employees:

  • Stories that bring your company’s mission and vision to life
  • A description of how the new employee’s job fits in with the team, and how the team contributes to the organization’s vision
  • An overview of the new employee’s schedule for the first week as well as future opportunities for growth and development
  • A Q&A on benefits, administrative procedures, and IT policies
  • An introduction to online HR forms that enable employees to submit common requests such as paid time off (PTO), mileage reimbursement, and new business cards

Step 3: Standardize Your Onboarding System

While orientation may take a few hours or a day, your new hire onboarding process will be one that spans several weeks or months. Taking the time to properly onboard employees is key to decreasing early turnover and making a profit:

Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire productivity and can improve overall employee performance by 11.5%. That’s not all. Nearly seven out of ten employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience. A slow and steady approach is best because it allows you to incorporate the following elements over time:

  • A welcoming committee with employee success specialists who are dedicated to ensuring new employees are getting the support they need
  • Training opportunities that empower employees to develop new skills in addition to learning mission-critical software and processes (70% of employees say job-related training and development opportunities impact their decisions to stay with a company.)
  • An evaluation process that allows you to review employee performance at 90 days
  • Opportunities for new hires to provide feedback on your onboarding process

You can (and should) fine-tune as needed to make this new hire onboarding checklist work within your organization, but sticking to a general structure like the one I’ve outlined above is bound to make a big difference in your new hire onboarding process.

Formstack’s solutions for HR professionals make it easier than ever to create an effective new hire onboarding process. Click the link below to learn more.


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Formstack is a SaaS company with a mission to help organizations digitize what matters, automate workflows, and fix processes—all without code. A variety of team members come together to compile posts under Formstack's authorship.
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